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heard the Voice from Heaven giving Attestation to our Lord Christ, 2 Pet. i. 16, 17, 18. he says, v. 19. We have also a more sure Word of a Prophecy, for the Proof of this Jesus being the Messiah; that is, the Prophefies which had gone before of Him, from the Beginning of the World, and all exactly fulfilled in Him.
Men may dispute an Imposition or Delusion upon our outward Senses; but how that can be false which has been so long, even from the Beginning of the World, and so often, by all the Prophets, in several Ages, foretold? how can this be an Impofition or a Forgery?
This is particularly insisted on in the Case of the Jews. And even the Deists must consess, that that Book we call the Old Testament was in Being, in the Hands of the fews, long before our Saviour came into the World. And if they will be at the Pains to compare the Prophesies that are there of the Messiah, with the fulsilling of them, as to Time, Place, and all other Circumstances, in the Person, Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascenfion of our blessed Saviour, will sind this Proof what our Apostle here calls it, a Light shining in a dark Place, until the Day dawn, and the Day-star arise in your Hearts. Which God grant. Here is no Possibility of Deceit or ImpostureOld Prophesies (and all so agreeing) conld not have been contrived to countenance a new Cheat; and nothing could be a Cheat that could fulfil all these.
For this therefore I reser the Deists to the Case of
I desire them likewise to look there, SeB. XI. and consider the Prophesies given so longago, of which they fee the fulsilling at this Day with their own Eyes, of the State of the Jews for many Ages past, and at present; without a King, or Priest, or Temple, or Sacrifice; scattered to the four Winds; sifted as with a Sieve among all Nations; yet preserved, and always so to be, a distinct People from all others of the whole Earth. Whereas those mighty Monarchies which oppressed the Jews, and which commanded the World in their
Turns, Turns, and had the greatest human Prospect os Perpetuity, were to be extinguished, as they have been, even that their Names mould be blotted out from under Heaven.
As likewise, that as remarkable of our blessed Saviour, concerning the Preservation and Progress of the Christian Church, when in her Swadling-Cloaths, consisting only of a sew poor Fisher-men: Not by the Sword, as that of Mahomet, but under all the Persecution of Men and Hell, which yet should not prevail against her.
But tho' I offer these as not to be slighted by the Deists, to which they can shew nothing equal in all profane History, and in which it is impossible any Cheat can lie; yet I put them not upon the same Foot as the Prophesies before-mentioned, of the Marks and Coming of the Messiah, which have been since the World began.
And that general Expectation of the whole Earth, at the time of his Coming, insisted upon in the Cafe of the Jewi, Sell. V. is greatly to be noticed.
But I say, the foregoing Prophesies of our Saviour are so strong a Proof, as even Miracles would not be sufficient to break their Authority.
I mean, if it were possible that a true Miracle could be wrought in Contradiction to them: For that would be for God to con:radict himself.
But no Sign or Wonder, that could possibly be solved, should shake this Evidence.
It is this that keeps the Jews in their Obstinacy; tho' they cannot deny the Matters of Fact done by our blessed Saviour to be truly Miracles, if so done as said : Nor can they deny that they were so done, because they have all the/W Marks before mentioned; yet they cannot yield. Why? Because they think that the Gospel is in Contradiction to the Law; which if it were, the Consequence would be unavoidable, that both could not be true. To solve this, is the Business of the Cafe of the Jev.s: But the Contradiction which they suppose is in their Comments that they put upon theLtw; C especially, especially they expect a literalFulfilling of those Promise*: of the Restaura-ion of Jerusalem, and outward Glories of the Church, of which there is such frequent mention in the Books of Moses, the Psalms, and all the Prophets. And many Christians do expect the same; and take those Texts as literally as the Jews do. We do believe and pray for the Converfion of the Jtws. For this End they have been so miraculously preserved, according to the Prophefies so long before of it. And when that Time shall come, as they are the most honourable and antient of all the Marions on the Earth, so will their Church return to be the Mother Christian Church, as she was at first; and Rome must surrender to Jerusalem. Then all Nations will flow thither: And even Ezekiess Temple may be literally built there, in the Metropolis of the whole Earth; which Jerusalem must be, when the Fulness of the Gentiles shall meet with the Converfion of the Jews. For no Nation will then contend with the Jews; nor Church with Jerusalem for Supremacy. All Nations will be ambitious to draw their Original from the Jews, whose are the Fathers, and from whom, as concerning the Flesh, Christ came.
Then will be fulfilled that outward Grandeur and ReJlauration of the Jews, and of Jerusalem, which they expect, pursuant to the Prophefies.
They pretend not that this is limited to any parti* cular Time of the Reign of the Messiah: They are sure it will not be at the Beginning ; for they expect to go through great Conflicts and Trials with their Messiah (as the Christian Church has done), before his final Conquest, and that they come to reign with him. So that this is no Obstruction to their embracing Christianity. They see the fame Things fulfilled in us, which they expect to themselves; and we do expect the same Things they do.
I tell this to the Deists, lest they may think that the Jews have some stronger Arguments than they know of; that they are not persuaded by the Miracles of our blessed Saviour, and by the fulfilling of all the Prophefies in him, that were made concerning the Messiah.
As I said before, I would not plead even Miracles against these.
And if this is sufficient to persuade a Jew, it is much more so to a Deisi, who labours not under these Ohjcctions. m
Besides, I would not seem to clash with that (in a sound Sense) reasonable Caution used by Christian Writers, not to put the Issue of the Truth wholly upon Miracles, without this Addition, -vhcn not done in Contradiction to the Revelations already given in the holy Scriptures.
And they do it upon this Consideration, That tho' it is impossible to suppose that God would work a realM/racle in Contradiction to what he has already revealed, yet Men may be imposed upon by false mi seeming Miracles, and pretended Revelations (as there are many Examples, especially in the Church of Rome) ; and so may be shaken in the Faith, if they keep not the Holy Scriptures as their Rule.
We are told, 2Thesf. ii. 9. os him whose Coming it after the working of Satan, with all Power, aud Signs, and lying Wonders. And Rcu.XM. 14. xvi. 14. and xix. 20. of the Devil and false Prophets working Miracles. But the Word in all these Places is only Xny.tt x Signs, that is as it is render'd, Matth. xxiv. 24.; which tho' sometimes ibuiay be used to signify real Miracles, yet not always, not in these Places: For tho' every Miracle be a Sign and a Wonder, yet every Sign or Wonder is not a Miracle.
X. Here it may be proper to consider a common Tapick of the Deists, who, when they are not able to stand out against the Evidence of Fail, that such and such Miracles have been done, then turn about and deny such things to be Miracl s; at least, that we can never be sure whether any wonderful Thing that is shewn to u» be a true or a false Miracle.
And the great Argument they go upon is this, That
a Miracle bei.-ig that whlcii exceeds the Power ot Nature,
we cannot know what exceeds it, unless we knew the
utmost Extent of the Power of Nature; and no Man pre
C 2 tend* tends to know that:- Therefore that no Man can certainly know whether any Event be miraculous ; and consequently he may be cheated in his Judgment betwixt true and false Miracles.
To which I answer, That Men may be so cheated; and there are many Examples of it.
But that tho' we may not always know when we are cheated, yet we can certainly tell, in many Cases, when we are not cheated.
For tho' we do not know the utmost Extent of the Power of Nature, perhaps, in any one Thing, yet it does not follow, that we know not the Nature of any thing, in some Measure, and that certainly too. For Example: Tho' I do not know the utmost Extent of the Power of Fire, yet I certainly know, that it is the Nature of Fire to Burn; and then, when proper Fewel is administered to it.it is contrary to the Nature of Fire not to consume it. Therefore if I see three Men taken osf the Street, in their common wearing Apparel, and, without any Preparation, cast into the midst of a burning sery Furnace, and that the Flame was so fierce that it burnt up those Men that threw them in, and yet that these who were thrown in should walk up and down in the Bottom of the Furnace; and I should see a Fourth Person with them, of glorious Appearance, like the Son of God; and that these Men should come up again out of the Furnace without any Harm, or so much as the smell of Fire upon themselves or their Cloaths; I could not be deceived in thinking that there was a Stop put to the Nature of Fire, as to these Men; and that it had its EJe<3 upon the Men whom it burned at the fame time.
Again; tho' I cannot tell how wonderful and sudden an Increase of Corn might be produced by the Concurrence of many Causes, as a warm Climnte, the Fertility of the Soil, Sec. yet this I can certainly know, that there is not that natural Force in the Breath of two or three Words spoken, to multiply one small Lccf of Bread ,fo fast, in the breaking of it, as truly and really, not only in Jppcaraitce and Shew to the Eye, but to sill the Bellies